– So on Thursday they went to the village and called the guests to the wedding on Sunday.
– Who went?
– The bride went, the groom went, the parents didn’t go, the parents stayed home to prepare the wedding feast. When they came on Thursday morning, they were treated with breakfast and then they left. For example I was yelling till about 10:00 at night.
– And where do you start?
– You start from the godparents. And then to my near relatives. My near ones means brother, sister, uncle, aunt… further and further away, all the way.
– Yeah, they called all the neighbors. The neighbors stayed home to make dinner for the ones who called. It’s done in the morning. And then on Friday they prepared for Saturday, when they held the girls’ day before the wedding. Before the wedding, girls gathered separately and boys separately. On Saturday, when the godparents came, they’d go from girl to boy.
– With the girl?
– Yes, only we didn’t sit together. After a while we came back, ate and went home to get ready.
– To the girl’s house?
– And what do you do when you get home?
– I know we were separated, they gave me gifts… I don’t remember, it was 23 years ago, and when we went home, we got ready for tomorrow.
– On Sunday?
– Sunday. I know that I didn’t sleep at all, that I was nervous, that I was leaving my parent’s house. It was like a preparation, that he was coming to buy me. In the morning, with the rifle, he shot the apple.
– How do you do it?
– He shoots.
– You hang it, you make a flower bridge. And there they put the apple and shoot it. He came after me. Let him stay inside, and then my husband must buy the bride. We’re here to make a bargain, they are joking.
– Who’s joking, the groom with…
– The groom, poor thing, he’s been going on and on.
They’re all men, not women. Then, when the bride is bought, she goes out, shouts.
– So she bargains…
– Yes. She’s ours! Then we go out, we get in the saddle, then the music, the march, and then the bride and groom go to church by foot. The bride and groom go, the parents follow, and then the godfathers.
– How many godparents do you have?
– We have four.
– One pair from the girl and one pair from the man?
– How do you choose?
– We’ve had from our ancestors…
– So they keep the ones who married Mom and Dad?
– Yes, they do.
– What about baptism?
– At baptism and he’s still there, at Easter, at Christmas you go to your godfather.
– With what? What’s that called?
– At Christmas we take a little box…
– What’s this?
– It’s from the pig.
– Ham. Pork shovel, as we say here. They give cake and if they have kids, they bring chocolate and stuff. At Easter, they take a hundred eggs.
– Red ones?
– No. I carry 90 soft-boiled eggs and 11 cracked eggs.
– So 101.
– Yes, 101, that’s how I do it.
– This is how it’s done.
So, at the wedding, when we get to the church and get married. After that they all go to the gir’s housel. In the front of the house, they dance hora. I know we’ve danced until evening. And from the girl’s house, he goes to the groom’s house, with two big candles. It means “I went on my feet” and you’re not allowed to turn back. My mother-in-law is waiting for me with a sieve full of corn, then I have to throw it away over the house.
– Over the roof?
– Yes. And she waited for me with honey and water. She gave me a spoonful of beehive honey in my mouth, so we could have a sweet life.
– Does the bride say anything?
– No. The mother-in-law says, “Well, we’ve found you, now you’re our daughter.” After we’ve done with that, the groom picks up the bride, lifts her in his arms and passes over the threshold in the room where they will live.
– So the bride is brought forward… When?
– Before the wedding.
– And you prepare that room?
– Yes. Then when we’re in, the party begins.
– In the room there?
– No, we go out, we go to the yard, we start the party, we cut the cake, the first piece the bride gives to the groom, then the groom gives to her to drink and so on. The guests stayed with us until Monday at 11 in the morning. Then it has to be seven days, the girl is not allowed to see her mother and father.
The first day I cried. I forgot my toothbrush. So Tuesday I went to my parents. And that’s when we had the party at my parents’ house. When we cooked, we cooked again tomorrow, we got ready for Thursday at my house. I waited for my parents to come to me with gifts.
– Did everyone bring something to the wedding?
– Before, they’d bring the money, but when the groom’s parents went to the bride’s… On Thursday they went to the girl, but no money was given. Only on Sunday the money would be given, and they would shout.
– How do you shout? Who shouts?
– There’s a man shouting. Long live the grandfather, he brought so much money… long live everyone.
– Was he giving in dinars? Was it given in currency?
– Then it was in marks. We also danced for money that Sunday.
– Who danced with you first?
– My mother-in-law.
– Did she pay you?
– Yes, she paid me and played with me. My father-in-law, my brother-in-law… but he paid me. One and the other.
– And who was paid?
– The bride. The bride got all the money..
– You had musicians?
– Yes, we had musicians.
– Where did you get them?
– We had a band made by our people from Petrovasila, from Satu Nou, a singer who also sang in Romania, he also knows Serbian, and we had Mrs. Iasmina from Romania, and Mrs. Otilia was at my wedding.
– So you gave your money to music after all.
– I also like to dance, I did folk dances. It was great, we were really tired, seven days, from Thursday to Thursday. Until Friday. It was really cool. Not anymore. I cried, they told me I couldn’t go back, to look after my parents. That’s a tough one, that’s the one where they sing “Say goodbye, you, bride”. It’s really hard. Luckily it’s not done anymore, or I’d be crying for my daughter.
– Is she old enough?
– She’s 20, she’s studying medicine at Timisoara, at university. It would have been hard to sing that.
– Did your mother sing?
– The singer sings. They used to say, “Don’t go back, don’t go back.”
– And you didn’t go back.
– I didn’t.
– But would you?
– To see my mum and dad.
– How old were you?
– When did your mother get married?
– Still like that.
– Or your grandmother?
– At 16. And in the family where they’re married, my grandmother, the old one, was 16, but he was 15. They were children.
– And how many children was he having?
– They were too young, many children lost. I know my old mother-in-law lost three children before she gave birth to her husband. She was 32, in ’53 she just had him. And she lost three children before that. They’re too young.
– They were born at home?
– My mother-in-law was in the hospital. But grandmother gave birth at home, the midwifes came, like a doctor’s assistant…
– How many midwifes were there in Petrovasila?
– Well, I think only two. But it’s a big village.
– What were the midwifes called?
– When I was born, it was Olga Yankkovich.
– How old were they?
– They would have been older. They wouldn’t have a pension, they’d work till they could.
– But do you know what it was like? Did you ask what it was like when the woman was about to give birth?
– I know that the mother told me, that she was afraid, that she lost three children. In the last month they wouldn’t let her lift anything heavy, to walk a lot, and her bed was prepared. She was in a lot of pain, the baby was upside down, but the granny twisted ot with her hand. So hard. I think it took about 12 hours to give birth.
– Didn’t you hear him put scissors somewhere? Or a knife under the bed?
– I think they’s put a knife under the bed. I remember that when I gave birth to my son, Eugen, he cried so much. He cried for a year and a half. As soon as I let him down from my arms, he cried. But she said they were all like that in her family. Then my grandmother sang to protect him from evil eye, “Come out, you devil, from his eyes, go into the wood, into the stones, so that my child may remain pure, bright, like the moon, like the stars, like the God who gave him to me”. Then he sputtered and prayed “Our Father”. That’s all I remember, it’s been 23 years since then.
– Who was cutting the navel?
– And before that?
– The midwife. Back then, the midwifes were like a doctor.
– Do you know how to do the first wash?
– The midwifes. She came until Mom settled down.
– How many days?
– I think seven days.
– Did she put something in the water?
– I think she put in basil. I don’t remember and it’s been a while since then.
– Do you know what they used to do with the water afterwards?
– Oh. The godfather brought molitva, which was made by the priest. With that molitva the godfather washed them and gave them a mirror, a comb, a book with a plate and a small tote. He washed the baby to be as beautiful as him, he gave the mirror to be as good as the mirror, gave the book to read, to be good at school… You should come to our village to see this tradition.
– When is it?
– On January 6, at Saint John’s. The children sing “Suralieșa, mandalieșa, the anger come out, sieve thick, thunder in the house, the lambs, the piglets, the piglet among them. Milky cows, woolly sheep, fat, pigs, eat them healthy, host, give us sausages too”.
– And get what?
– They get biscuits, sausages and money. That’s a great thing about us, I like that. My baby was born on January 7th.
– At what age, how old are they baptized?
– Until one year old, only here it’s not like that anymore. Now they’re baptized when they’re older. I don’t think the child should be baptized. I’ll tell you why. He doesn’t know. I wouldn’t have made the children get baptized until they grow up and understand what they want to do. I baptized them because my in-laws wanted me to.
– How many do you have?
– Two. Baby and a girl.
– And how many brothers do you have?
– I have two brothers.
– Yes. And they have four, three children.
– How do women give birth, one child at a time?
– Yes. My husband has one. And his father is one. We wanted to have more, but we lost one.
Photo credit: Dariana Hînda